Quarterback Joe Theismann also has been a punter, a punt returner, even a pass receiver as a professional. Tonight, because he acted like a strong safety, the Redskins are Super Bowl champions.
The Redskins had first and 10 at their 18 late in the third quarter, and Theismann was hoping to throw a short pass toward tight end Rick Walker. At the last instant, he saw Walker was covered, so he aimed toward Charlie Brown on the left side. The ball was tipped by Dolphins defensive end Kim Bokamper and went straight up. Bokamper had a chance to catch the football and score, a touchdown that would have given the Dolphins a 24-13 lead.
That's when Theismann went into his safety routine, knocking the ball away and preventing what could have been a game-turning interception.
"I had visions of A.J. Duhe running into the end zone last week," Theismann said, referring to Duhe's tip and interception return of a pass for a touchdown in Miami's 14-0 playoff victory over the New York Jets in the AFC championship game. "I didn't want to feel like Richard Todd (the Jets quarterback) felt last week. I saw it up in the air and I just sort of dove and tried to get in the middle of it."
"I had my heart in my mouth when I saw the ball come out," said Redskins Coach Joe Gibbs. "We got one like that against Dallas. Joe Theismann made a great play to knock it out of the Dolphins' hands."
Meanwhile, the real Redskins' defense was also playing a significant role in the game, particularly in the second half, when it allowed the Dolphins 34 yards total offense and two first downs. Miami did not complete any of its 11 pass attempts over the same span.
"The fact that we were able to get them in so many long-yardage situations in the second half was a major factor," said Redskins free safety Mark Murphy. "We also tried to give them as many different looks as we could. I tried to fake blitzes, anything to confuse them."
"Our whole approach was to try to get them to play against our nickel defense as much as we could," said the defensive coordinator, Richie Petitbon. "In the second half, that's what they got. The kid (Dolphins quarterback David Woodley) is 24 years old. He's playing in a very big game, and the pressure might have gotten to him. And when things were going bad, it had to affect him. We didn't have any major adjustments. We just went after those guys."
Said Woodley: "We went in with the game plan thinking we could throw on them and we had a lot of success in the first half. But in the second half, they shut us down completely. They used a lot of tough man-to-man coverage and played very aggressively. We couldn't even get a first down."